The State of the City and the State of the Chamber

The State of the City and the State of the Chamber

By Robert Haugh
On Monday, Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta delivered the State of the City at the Santa Clara Chamber’s annual Outlook event.
It was billed originally as an event with Mayor Lisa Gillmor. But Caserta was subbed in. No offense to the Vice Mayor, but that’s like Barry Horrowitz replacing Hulk Hogan in a WrestleMania main event.

That makes us wonder. Is Gillmor sending the Chamber a message? Is she still unhappy with the Chamber PAC’s bungling efforts in the 2016 city elections when they opposed her closest allies who were easily re-elected by huge margins? (Gillmor did not reply by our deadline).

Or was she not happy that the Chamber misspelled her name in the invite? 

Unfortunately, we could not attend. We didn’t even know the event was happening. There was almost no online publicity about the event. We knew about a Disney trivia event at a local coffee shop though. 

But we did talk to some people who showed up. They said it was sparsely attended. If you didn’t count city staff and chamber staff, only about 4-5 tables were filled. Maybe it’s time that Santa Clara consider a real professional state of the city event, like San Jose, instead of what the Chamber attempts to do and doesn’t do very well. The event should include neighborhood leaders and other groups to make it more diverse. And it should be streamed on Facebook Live.

Maybe it’s also time for the Chamber to evaluate its organization. As we reported, Chamber president Chris Horton was rejected for a city commission. That’s not a good sign when your top guy can’t get at least four votes for an appointment. We also hear that the major companies are shying away from the Chamber PAC because of their 2016 political blunders. 

Add on top of that some high profile defeats for the Chamber in the last year like the city minimum wage increase and a city worker retention ordinance. Both were championed by Caserta in a little bit of irony.

We’ve reached out to Caserta to offer to reprint his state of the city address on this site. We’ll also ask Horton if he wants to provide a state of the Chamber update which might be a lot shorter.


  1. My neighbor is a Chamber member. He likes it because they have some good networking events. But he says the big companies ignore the Chamber. He says that one or two of the bigger companies that are in the Chamber are thinking about leaving. He just hopes they don’t go under so he can still go to the mixers.

    • Robert, on this one you should have been there. If you want to credibility as a “reporter” and not as somebody that just gives their opinion devoid of facts, than you should really do more investigating. The event was sold out. Yes it was in a larger room than normal and a different format as far as tables versus chairs so that might have made it seemed less attended. I personally thought it was a great event and a great forum for business leaders to speak with our elected representatives. Instead of speculation, how about doing some real reporting with people on the record. How about finding out why the Mayor was really not there instead of giving your opinion? I see you do a lot of reporting about the Chamber without ever actually talking to anyone from the Chamber. Hearsay about what’s going on is not reporting. I though you were better than that. I read every article you put out and I am extremely disappointed with the lack of effort and lack of facts in this article. Please do due diligence in everything you put out unless you just want to be an opinion piece. Honestly I read this for news, if I want an opinion, everyone has one and I don’t need to read your articles for that. You are however called the Santa Clara News Online and not Santa Clara news opinion online. Think about it and thank You

    • Ravinder,

      Thanks for your comments. I write a column which by definition is a mixture of both news and opinion. That’s also the case for columns in other publications with “news” in the title, like the Mercury News.

      I stand by my sources who say the event was sparsely attended. You say that it was “sold out” but you don’t define what that means. So if you’d like to share information about number of attendees minus Chamber staff and city staff, I’ll print it. I’m glad you thought it was a great event, but others didn’t.

      Your point about the Mayor is fair. I tried to contact her before printing. When she didn’t respond I felt comfortable printing that she has issues with the Chamber because that’s been the buzz around town for months and I’ve heard it from people close to her. It’s credible to me because I saw how the Chamber PAC really screwed up in 2016. And if you look at the recent votes, it’s clear the Chamber has been losing this year.

      Thanks for reading and your comments. I’ll be happy to print any info about the event that you feel needs to be shared.

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